Becoming a Hunter — Part 3: Preparing for the Hunt

I've been spending a lot of time researching turkeys, particularly the difference in species. I had friends who raised turkeys on their farm, and they were nasty, smelly, mean things that I did not find endearing in any way, at least not while they were alive. Wild turkeys are completely different though. They have beautiful plumage and a range of vocalizations that is akin to a whole different language. When they are out in the wild with room to roam, they form dynamic flocks I could watch all day.

So why would I want to harvest such a beautiful animal? Well, there are a multitude of reasons. Wildlife management is important, hunters balance the ecosystem in lieu of natural predators, but my personal reasons are a little more defined. Part of my desire to start hunting stems from my quest to find the ultimate in unprocessed, pure food. I've eaten plenty of game, but I want to know the food on my table is something that I've harvested and prepared, start to finish. I want to take responsibility for my food.

Like raising your own livestock, you have a personal relationship with your food far greater than just grabbing something from Safeway or Walmart. I spent 3 years as the nerdy outcast of my FFA chapter, the only Missoula FFA member from my high school. I participated in FFA because I love raising and harvesting livestock. I won a plaque in livestock judging, and I raised and showed pigs at the Western Montana Fair.

This experience had its highs and lows, but it was the real turning point in my life. It was the point that sparked my passion for food and knowing where my food comes from. I have never harvested my own meat, and I've never butchered an animal that wasn't already processed to some degree, but it's almost time and I'm confident I will have no problems doing it. But virtue untested is no virtue at all.

I can't actually harvest a wild turkey if I can't find one and, even if I can find one, if I can't access the property it doesn't matter if I find a million. Western Montana has turkeys to be sure, but they definitely aren't overwhelmingly common.

Enter the HUNT App. I usually don't buy into apps, as someone that works in data, I know that many apps are just a mobile, trackable front for information or services readily available in a web browser. I tried to scout out some areas on Google Maps...and got nowhere. I didn't even know where to start, all I could identify was a national forest. Up until now, I've really underestimated the value of the HUNT App. Without it I would either have to pick someone's brain about their secret spot (unlikely), or do a lot of time-consuming legwork. A tip of my hat to all the hunters who got started before this technology was around.

Click here to continue reading BECOMING A HUNTER—PART 3: PREPARING THE HUNT

By: Margaret Persico

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